Nico Rosberg has identified Red Bull as being the team to beat in this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix following an impressive display from the defending world champions during the second free practice session at Spa-Francorchamps.
Despite suffering from a late puncture, Sebastian Vettel finished quickest ahead of teammate Mark Webber with both Red Bull drivers finishing over three-quarters of a second quicker than their nearest rival, Romain Grosjean. Rosberg could only finish ninth, and he has conceded that it will be tough for Mercedes to win for a fourth time this season at Spa.
“It’s looking a bit more difficult for us here than expected, especially when Red Bull are very strong,” Rosberg said. “It’s going to be difficult to beat them at the moment.”
However, this is a track that Rosberg likes and one that he is confident of doing well at thanks to the improvements made by Mercedes over the past twelve months.
“It’s an absolutely amazing track, and for me especially because our car is so much quicker than last year, maybe some other teams don’t have such a big difference but for us, last year we were nowhere. Now we’ve got a decent car, the difference is just incredible.”
Rosberg was surprised to hear about Vettel’s tire failure towards the end of the session, having not had any major problems with degradation himself.
“For us it was okay, but we need to look into that,” the German driver said.
In Free Practice 2, Mercedes did focus on their long-runs and their sustained pace was on par with Red Bull’s times, suggesting that a four-way fight between Vettel, Webber, Rosberg and Hamilton for the win on Sunday could be on the cards. However, with rain on the cards, that could be all set to change.